The Lord God of Israel changes not, therefore we are not consumed. The bounds of our habitation and number of our days are immutably fixed in his irrevocable decrees. The measure of our happiness in this world and in the world which is to come, depends on his gracious purpose, and infinitely wise administration. His providence governs the revolving seasons of our years, causing the earth to unbosom to us that succor which our earthly nature requires for sustenance and for comfort, in such measure and manner as seems good in his sight; while from the ample fullness which there is in Christ Jesus our Lord, he, by his Spirit, constantly administers to the spiritual necessities of all those who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. It is also consoling to know that the afflictions, trials and conflicts of his children, while in the house of their pilgrimage, do not rise up out of the earth, nor come upon them by chance. An even balance is poised in his hand, and the weight, measure and duration of all the sufferings of his children is proportioned with the most exact and infallible certainty to that amount of grace which he bestows on them, whereby they are not only sustained in their deepest afflictions and trials, but made to realize the greatest profit and benefit from them all. From all their conflicts with the world, the flesh, and the devil, they shall emerge in triumph as more than conquerors through him that loved them and gave himself for them. “These light afflictions,” says an inspired apostle, “which are but for a moment, do work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not on the things which are seen, but on the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” The trials, afflictions, losses and bereavements that we encounter in these vile bodies, are seen, they are visible to the natural sensibilities of the flesh, and therefore our carnal nature writhes under them; and while we look at them, like Peter when he looked on the heaving billows of the sea, we begin to sink; but when our faith looks up to Jesus, and we see his hand outstretched for our deliverance, we glory in that tribulation which afforded opportunity for the cheering revelation. The raging billows on which we are tossed are seen, but faith that looks to Christ is the evidence of things that are not seen. This is the blessed privilege of all the sons of God, to look on things which are not temporal, but eternal. Our fleshly powers, including all the powers, mental and physical, which are born of the flesh, and all that we can have without a new birth, are totally blind to all the things of the Spirit of God, and only able to look on things which are temporal; but that life which is born of God, can discern the things of the Spirit of God. How essential it is then to our happiness that we heed the admonition of the apostle, to crucify the old man with his affections and lusts, and that we sow to the Spirit, that of the Spirit we may reap life everlasting.
With this number we commence the twenty-fourth volume of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, and it is reasonable to suppose our readers will expect some expression from us of our prospects, and of our designs. In regard to prospects we can only say, in regard to the things that are seen, we begin the year with a greater number of subscribers than we ever have had before at the commencement of any volume. The unenviable efforts of those who have banded themselves together for the purpose of putting down the SIGNS, have thus far proved quite unavailing. May the Lord forgive them for the misrepresentations and falsehoods they have put in circulation against us. May he enable us to live down all the calumny that has been, or hereafter may be uttered against us. We know, or at least we hope we know, him on whom we have believed, and that he is able to keep us by his power and grace.
“His love in times past forbids us to think
He’ll leave us at last in trouble to sink.”
Through him we can do all things, rush through a troop, or leap over a wall. Having confidence in God, we can say of all our adversaries,
“Then let them fight, and rage, and rave,
I shall perceive their noise no more
Than we can hear a shaking leaf,
While rattling thunders round us roar.”
Our prospect for the future is involved in the things which are not seen. Our God leads his people in paths that they have not known. To him, with the most unwavering confidence, do we desire to unreservedly commit all that we have, and all that we are, and if it be not his good pleasure to make our periodical a medium of comfort, edification and profit to his dear children, we have no desire that its publication should be continued. But from the assurances received from many thousands of our brethren and sisters, and from every perceptible indication of his will, we feel encouraged to move forward in the work.
As to our designs, we intend, as the Lord shall give us ability, to labor for the edification of the saints, the dissemination of the truth as it is in Jesus, and in opposition to heresy, will-worship, supersitition, bigotry and idolatry. Nothing affords us more real pleasure than to be employed in waiting upon the bride, the Lamb’s wife, with the consciousness that in so doing, we have the authority and approval of him who walks amidst the golden candlesticks, and holds the stars in his right hand. We will spare no labor or reasonable expense to make the forthcoming volume more useful, interesting and edifying, than any of the former volumes. In attempting to carry out this design, we shall rely much on the aid of our brethren and sisters who contribute to our columns. Much will depend on the character, spirit and temper manifested in their communications, as well as the tone and character of the editorial articles. All, subjects vitally connected with the interests of the Redeemer’s kingdom may be discussed freely, so long as such discussions can be conducted in a spirit of love and brotherly kindness, and all personal thrusts, gibes or insinuations, which are calculated, in our judgment, to irritate, are avoided. It is not our intention to suffer the paper to be the medium of crimination or recrimination among the brethren, nor a repository in which to record or publish all personal grievances. We shall aim at a higher mark. As we hold no secret or private sentiments in regard to the gospel of the grace of God, we shall candidly, fairly and unreservedly give an expression of our own views on any passage of Scripture, or point of doctrine, and on all subjects relating to the ordinances and order of the house of God, whenever called on to do so, to the very best of our ability. But in doing so we wish to have it distinctly understood that we give only the views of the humble editor of this paper. None are bound to indorse our views any farther than they can see them clearly sustained by the Scriptures of truth. Any of our brethren are at liberty to animadvert upon or controvert any sentiment that we may advance, provided they do so in a kind and brotherly manner. We are fully satisfied, from many years’ experience, it is not discussion or controversy that wounds or disturbs the minds of our readers, but the harsh, unkind and unbrotherly manner in which such controversies have sometimes been conducted. Brethren cannot be too careful to avoid such expressions as are calculated to irritate the feelings of each other, by impugning each other’s motives, or insinuating that they are unsound in the faith, while they may honestly differ in their understanding of the import of some Scripture, or the propriety of some particular expressions. The wise man has told us that “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” How important then that christians should act on that principle while following after the things that make for peace, and things whereby one may edify another.
The world is at this time in a state of general agitation; wars and rumors of wars are current all over the world, to an extent hardly ever before known; and discords are prevalent in our own country, threatening to prostrate our civil, social and political institutions, and to produce anarchy and distress, where freedom has unfurled her joyful banner. It is natural that some difference of opinion should exist among our best and wisest brethren, in regard to those things which agitate the world, and jeopardize our dearest earthly rights. Great care is necessary that we do not wound each other by any rash or premature action or expression in regard to the general tumult. As citizens we have to do with the institutions of our country, and as christians we may be interested in the final issue. But let us not forget that we are citizens of a kingdom that is not of this world, a kingdom that shall stand forever, and whatever privations, tribulations or distress may await us upon these mortal shores, we shall outride the storm at last, and that it will not be long before we shall be called to lay aside our armor, and the weapons of our warfare, and pass into that state where the wicked shall cease from troubling, and the weary shall be at rest.
Middletown, N. Y.
Jan. 1, 1856.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 289 - 293